5 Questions You Need to Answer In Writing A Superb Book Review

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Book reviews are “staple food” here at Delighting Grace and I hope everyone is enjoying every morsel of it. But you might ask, what does it takes to write a book review? How can someone start writing a review? Well for starters I’m not an expert on whipping up one. However, I do have questions I need to answer when ever I write a book review. It serves as a guide to me. Here are five of them:

Is the title, sub-title or book cover appealing? There is nothing special about me. I may have a blog and I review books, still I’m just an ordinary Joe who likes books. Like many, the name, sub-title, and cover  also influence what I want to check out. For me the cover and title are Easter eggs for things to expect to the book. It might be titled boldly and reveals in the sub-title some claims that raises my eyebrows. So along with a great book cover, it will lead me to want to investigate if it really holds up to what it says up front. Will it keep what it wants to say to the end or will it be a meh? That’s where the the book aesthetics may cause me to read it.

Is it relevant to me, my ministry or church? This is important to me because . On one hand I reading it for pleasure and in another I consider if its important to my personal growth, ministry or church. After all, I’m investing my time reading this book to learn something I might as well invest on what will benefit me. It might be controversial or popular as long as it will provide solid food for the various areas of my faith. It might not be for immediate application but something I can take note of.

After reading the book, does it push me to action? When I put down this book, does it move me to do something? Does this book points back to God’s will for me as a Christian? I’ve encountered books that is so engaging that I didn’t need to finish it and I just sat down for a few minutes and meditate on it. It makes you want to apply the truths that touched your heart. This might  be getting your hands dirty for the Lord or sharing this truth to other Christians, either way, the words from the book connected to you is enough to hack up a great review.

Is the book biblically solid? Does the book centers on Jesus and the gospel? Does the author digs deep on the passages of Scriptures and not just slapping a verse here and there in the book just to make it biblical? Does he exalt enthusiastically Christ in the book that brings a certain excitement as you read the book? These are some questions that will guide someone when writing a book review.

Did I enjoy reading the book? It doesn’t matter who wrote it, or if it’s a long or short read nor who endorses it, it matters if I enjoyed it. It might come through how creative the topic was presented, or the style of writing of the author. His cool illustrations,  wit and humor that keeps you reading are also some factors to consider as long as the truth is thoroughly conveyed and satisfied my expectation for the book. Simply put, do I walk away happy?

That’s my 5 questions that will prep you up if your considering to write a book review. Now get a pen and paper (or laptop) and start writing that great review.

 

 

The Freebie Round-Up # 54

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My heart is grieving at a local hospital pedia ward. Lots of children are crying in pain because of dengue. That’s yesterday when I picked up my father from the hospital because he was discharged after an operation. I remember I was teaching God’s providence on our small group as I pass the pedia ward. That really bothers me. Please pray for these children that God may have mercy on them.

Anyways, here’s a list of great freebies that are waiting to be downloaded. And if your new here to this post or you missed out other freebie round-ups, check the links to those post at the end of this article.

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Free e-book “The Soul’s Conflict with Itself” by Richard Sibbes –  Newly published by Monergism, this free e-book, Richard Sibbes reflects on Psalms 42: 11.

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FREE e-book “What Time is Purple?” from Living Waters– Get this digital copy of a new evangelistic booklet from Living Waters. And if your from the US they are offering mass copies for you to give away for free. 

FREE online event from David Platt – Something Has to Change is a live simulcast from David Platt’s church and you can sign up for free updates to watch in online. You can also attend in person to that event.

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FREE e-book “A Theology of The Office” – I’m not familiar with that hit TV show but Think Christian provides this free e-book picking the best episodes and characters that made mentions of God and some view of theology.

FREE webcast “Is Biblical Greek Study Still Relevant to the Church Today?” – This free webcast featuring Bill Mounce is over, but you can still register and watch the replay.  And as added bonus, they have some downloadable freebies.

FREE e-book “Life in the Wild” by Dan DeWitt– This is the free e-book of the month offer from The Good Book Company. 

FREE webinar from  CSB – Learn the history, translation philosophy and everything in between on this CSB free webinar with an Q and A from Brandon Smith. For US attendees you’ll get a free Bible.

By the way, to my Pinoy friends do you want to learn how to self-publish your book? Here’s a step by step video from Loida Bauto an AVM survivor and a PWD vlogger:

Do you want more freebies? Check out these past blog post:

Freebie Round-Up #53

Freebie Round-Up #52

Freebie Round-Up #51

Freebie Round-Up #50

 

The Freebie Round-Up # 53

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The “ber” months is coming and it will be Christmas soon. Since I have a couple of Sundays left for the year to teach our youth small group, I’ll focus on prayer on September and October. November and December will be about creating camaraderie between our youngsters through games and getting to know activities. This will be every other Sunday. Our discussion on Baptist catechism is still on going. Please pray for us as we bond strong as a small group.

Anyways, here’s a list of great freebies that are waiting to be downloaded. And if your new here to this post or you missed out other freebie round-ups, check the links to those post at the end of this article.

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Free “Identity Crisis” audio training with PDF Notes-  The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD) has these great counseling resources including this series of training on free mp3 and pdf notes.

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FREE Prayer Acrostics printables- A simple yet good way to remind our family how to pray. Christine Chappell created this free printable after listening to a podcast of John Piper.

FREE Newsletter “BCI Insights” – Receive a monthly newletter with reviews, resources, case studies and great articles from Biblical Counseling Institute. Click here to sign up.

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FREE preaching and Bible study handling- St. Helen Bishopgate have these great videos and mp3 for preaching and handling Bible studies of different books of the Bible.

FREE audio download “Fearless Apologetics” – The Apollos Project offers this digital audio of their teaching for free. And while your at their site, be sure to sign up with their free newsletter that comes with a freebie.

FREE e-book “Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary” by S. M. Baugh – Get this hefty book along with news alerts from Lexham Press by signing up to their free newsletter.

FREE e-book “Faith vs. Faithfulness: A Primer on Rest” – Theocast offers this free e-book simply by clicking add cart and use the promo code when checking out. And oh listen to their awesome podcast.

By the way, to my Pinoy friends do you want to learn how to self-publish your book? Here’s a step by step video from Loida Bauto an AVM survivor and a PWD vlogger:

Do you want more freebies? Check out these past blog post:

Freebie Round-Up #52

Freebie Round-Up #51

Freebie Round-Up #50

 

Cultivating A Passion for God Through Reading

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We had our laymen and women fellowship last August 17 which we focus on the theme Passion for God. The whole day affair was a blessing to us as we share the preaching and fellowship within our sector.

In the afternoon session, we had an open forum. We were grouped into four then we discuss questions pertaining on how we can develop a passion for God. Each group presented their answers in front of everyone. The afternoon was well spend with insightful and engaging discussions.

As much as the thought exchange went well, I feel that I have to share something since we are nearing at the end of this quarter fellowship. The open forum did miss out some questions our speaker provided. And something that is near to my heart was not raised out. So I ask our chairman if I can speak to answer a specific question. The question is about reading and resources that read to ignite our passion for God. So I gave brief talk probably 5 minutes about nurturing a passion driven reading habit. I wish I could have spoken for couple more minutes but I don’t have much time. But if they did allowed me to elaborate further, my response might be like the one below.

Cultivating a Passion for God Though Reading

In response to one of the questions our speaker gave us which is dear to my heart, I would like to share 3 things that could help in the pursue of God through the habit of reading.

It depends on what is accessible to us.

We might blame the internet for the collapse of the record store industry or an impending doom over physical book shops however the internet made something unthinkable. We can access music and literature online free. What can take days or weeks to access is now just on click away. The internet, though slay the physical stores, it offers something revolutionary in digital proportions!

It might be a happy ending then for us who hunger books and music then again what happen?

Just when the internet makes classical music accessible, what did we do?

Just when the internet makes poetry accesible, what did we do?

Just when the internet makes some Christian books accessible what did we do? We turn to social media. Messaging boards and chat rooms were the precursor of the social media today. We consumed them then moved on to Facebook and Twitter.

So how can we built a passion for God through our reading materials when we dont access the good stuff? How do we create good habits when we don’t avail those vast resources in the internet? How can we contribute our reading habits? Make the internet work for you. You have no excuse because of the bulk of materials that are few click away are at your disposal.

It depends on how we view reading.

In the Philippine context, we are not a reading culture. This doesn’t mean we dont read or we are illiterate, it just mean that reading is not in our blood. Reading here is a sub culture.  If I will look back on my childhood days, I can see all the magazines and comics I enjoyed.  I think this is the golden age of reading (late 70’s to mid-90’s) because we buy newspapers and when we go to our neighbor, we devour magazines, comics, songhits and pocketbooks to our hearts desire. Publishing houses are dishing out reading materials here and there. Booksales (the popular second bookstore) are everywhere. Those where the days as they say. Then the internet came and almost obliterate the publishing industry in the Philippines. It also took toll on how we value reading. Suddenly we became too lazy to read.

Then there’s was the emergent of Wattpad that gave us teens and young adults that read books (and also writes). For me that resurgence really made a mark and push people to read. Book fairs and comic conventions are booming is another factor to take note. But thats not enough.

Pinoy Christians should view reading as a discipline, a skill that we need to be learned and to focus on. Again, it’s not in our blood to be readers and it will take a time and effort to put it in our system to be a good reader, nevertheless it’s attainable. We can create a good habit of reading that will be beneficial to us. Reading that is not just for entertainment, but a more of empowering ourselves to pursuit a passion for God.

Social media, with all of it’s benefits to us wouldnt help us achieve that focus. We allow Facebook updates and Tweets to distract us for doing what matters most. It’s an instant gratification because it magnifies our narcissism. Maybe it’s time to lay down our phones and get something to read that in the long run will benefit us and the church.

It depends on what we are willing to let go.

Purposeful reading does have competitors. One of those rivals is Facebook. Rather that occupy ourselves with books that will glorify God we substitute it with something that will glorify ourselves. Not that Facebook is evil in itself but how it robs and distracts us of our time to allocate it to things that matter. Having said that, as believers are ready to give it up for the sake of reading for the Kingdom?

Another one is the TV shows that is a staple to our Pinoy culture. Phenomenal shows like Ang Probinsyano, The General’s Daughter and tons of K-Drama will keep us occupied the whole night. Are we willing to cultivate beneficial reading over Ricardo Dalisay?

We only got 24 hours everyday and sleeping already had a chunck of it. So how do we spead our time? Sacrificing distraction for something beneficial should be our priority.

In the church setting, it’s the responsibility of the pastor to teach his members to be good readers. How do the pastor do it? Recommend good books by mentioning it to the pulpit. Quote some of it on your sermons. Set up book reading clubs. Give books as gifts to special occassions to you members. Deliberately point out the negative effects of social media. Suggest time management. And on and on we can go with all of this. The point is, reading with the endgame of knowing God more matters even in our reading habit. May God bless us all as we take steps to attain this noble pursuit.

8 Favorite Quotes From the Book “Abide” by Warren W. Wiersbe

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Our church anniversary is on Sunday and other than the New Year or Christmas, this is a good time to reflect the goodness of God to my family through the blessings he extend to the church. Through preaching, teaching and fellowships the church had served us and in return we served the church with our God given possessions and talents. We hope and pray that God will bless this mutual exchange that extend from this side of heaven to the next life.

Anyways, here’s the book by Warren W. Wiersbe, Abide published by 10 of Those Publishing.  If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at 10 of Those. Stay tuned for more quotes and review of this book.

“The Christian need not have an identity crisis. Jesus tells us who we are and why we are here. We are branches, and he is the Vine. We are here to bear fruit. Once you accept this simple fact, you are on the way to making your life meaningful and useful.”

“If you are growing in holy living, and experiencing victory over temptation, then you are abiding in Christ. The absence of temptation is not a proof of abiding; the presence of temptation and testing is the proof.”

“It is the Holy Spirit who encourages and enables us to abide. He teaches us the Word; He enables us to pray; He reveals our sins; He gives us the inward desire to obey God. “

“God works in, we work out. As we surrender, God works in; as we obey, God works out. Abiding involves keeping in fellowship with the Vine so that God can work in us.”

“The Christian who abides in Christ and shares his life will produce the fruit of holiness. You cannot manufacture holiness. The Pharisees tried to do this and Jesus called them hypocrites.”

“Holiness is nothing else but the beauty and character of God displayed in our everyday lives. Holy living means more than victory over sin; it also means growth in character so that we become more like Jesus Christ.”

“One of the reasons God saved you is that you might bear fruit in this world. You are living in a hungry world where people are starving for spiritual reality.”

“When you yielded to Christ, a living union was formed between you and the Lord. Just as the branch gets its life from the vine, so the believer gets his life from Jesus Christ.”

Vlogging with Disability: Delighting Grace Interviews Loida Bauto

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Vlogging is the most viral platform today and thanks to Youtube these vloggers find the space and audience for their videos. From the celebrities to the infamous to the completely unknown, you’ll find plenty of them dishing out topics like food, travel, gadgets, showing off talents, unboxing, reaction videos, reviews and a whole lot more.
Loida Bauto is not your typical vlogger. She has a Youtube channel where she shares her journey as a PWD (persons with disabilities). I’m so glad that Loida allowed DG to interview her and talk about being a #PWDvlogger.
Delighting Grace: Hello Loida!  
Please tell us something about yourself.

 

Loida Bauto: I am Loida C. Bauto, an interior designer by profession but wasn’t able to practice for long because I was diagnosed with Brain Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) months after passing the licensure examinations. The AVM caused two (2) major strokes that left me with multiple disabilities up to date. I am now a disabled person (PWD or Persons With Disabilities) for 6 years. At present, I am doing vlogs on Youtube.

Delighting Grace: Ok. So when and why did you decide to do vlogging?

Loida Bauto: I started vlogging just this March 2019. At first, I just wanted to share my story and use it as my journal but in video form. I also tried it because it can also be a source of income. But after studying how it works, I realized that Youtube is a good platform to share in your cause. Youtube-ing can be a great way to rally people for a certain purpose especially if you already have a large following.

Delighting Grace: There are virtually lots of vloggers and vlogging channel around. Please tell whats your vlog or Youtube channel about? What topics do you cover?

 

Loida Bauto: My channel is about my journey as a PWD and as an AVM Survivor. I cover topics concerning (Persons with Disabilities) PWDs and even topics I just wanted to share that may help or educate viewers.

Honestly, my first vlogs are more about my story but as I do my research, it seems I am really directed to topics about disability like what the hashtag I am using- I am a #PWDvlogger.

Delighting Grace:  You’re the first #PWDvlogger I met. How’s your experience in vlogging for the first time? How was your first time to post your first video?

 

Loida Bauto: I am really camera shy. I never thought I can also face the camera, film myself, and make someone watch it. My first time uploading on Youtube is full of worries – how I look, how I sound or am I good enough. But when I post videos, people are watching it and I feel motivated (I am grateful although it was not really a lot of views). As I am learning, my insecurities faded. How I looked and sounded wasn’t important. I can face the camera more confidently!

Delighting Grace: Since you have some physical constaints, is vlogging hard for you? What are the adjustments do you make to make much of your vlogging?

Loida Bauto: Yes. It’s hard especially setting things up. I cannot walk alone but I try (most of the time) to arrange my set-up alone. And it’s harder because I don’t have a studio or enough equipment for vlogging. I only film myself at the entrance or at the door where it’s brighter. I am only using my phone; Use the emergency light of the electric fan just to add brightness when there’s not enough sunshine.

But I love doing it. I really enjoyed vlogging. I really put so much effort and time researching and reading articles about my content. I also make much thru editing the videos knowing that I lack the equipment to make high definition videos. So, binabawi ko sa editing.

Delighting Grace: I love the self publishing and vlogging equipment set up videos you have done. So what’s your favorite video that you made?

Loida Bauto: My favorite videos are those starting with Vlog #8. It’s the start where I am becoming more and more confident with what I am doing.

Delighting Grace: If someone wants to start vlogging what is the first thing they should know? Will that differ if say a PWD wants to vlog?

Loida Bauto: I would say to anyone, whether he’s a PWD or not, that it will not be easy as how it looked like especially when you are not known or famous. They should do their research. Know your content. Brand ourselves. For a PWD, I will add: Don’t get embarrassed just because we have disabilities.

Delighting Grace: How do we glorify God in our infirmities? I know you have been through alot. So how do we kep focus on Christ despite our circumstances?

Loida Bauto: God indeed is the one working in my life to glorify Him. He glorifies Himself through my weaknesses. I have made failures. My story is tattered. But I am witnessing how God shines on how He’s using my life. The darker I am in my infirmities, the more people and I are seeing His radiance. I am physically disabled but God enables.

To acknowledge and understand God’s sovereignty over all creatures and circumstances and to know God is good whatever may happen in our lives give me peace and assurance that I will not be harmed and forsaken. Like what the hymn said, “Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’ 

Delighting Grace: Well said. Thank you so much! Loida, please invite our readers to check you out.

Loida Bauto: Hello everyone! Loida here!  Please check me out by going to Youtube and search ‘Loida Bauto’ and you’ll find lots videos about me. You can alternatively, go my channel and watch my vlogs. Don’t forget to hit the ‘Subscribe’ button to subscribe to my channel and tap on the ‘bell’ icon so you’ll be the first to know my newest video.

  You can contact me on my FB Page, my book’s FB Page ‘Memento ni Loida’ or e-mail me: loidabauto@gmail.com. If you don’t know which one to watch first, let me suggest this video link to my story. May you find my content worth watching.

Delighting Grace: Thanks again Loida and I hope you inspired people to vlog despite their infirmities. Blessings everyone!

Download these free resources for the PWD from Desiring God:

E-book: Disability and the Sovereign Goodness of God by John Piper

E-book: When Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper

Video: The Story of Ian and Larissa

 

The Freebie Round-Up # 50

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Glad your here again for another round of freebie downloads. Before anything again I would like to ask you guys to lift up my dad in prayer for his upcoming surgery. He needs all the strenght and financial support he can get.

Anyways, here’s a list of great freebies that are waiting to be downloaded. And if your new here to this post or you missed out other freebie round-ups, check the links to those post at the end of this article.

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Free handouts and mp3 for Adult Sunday School- If your Sunday School needs some materials on creeds and confession then get these free stuff from Trinity Reformed Baptist Church.

FREE small group resources – The Christian Incredible Journey is a free offer from Christ Reformed Church which gives out the basic of the Christian walk starting with salvation.

FREE journal – Protestant Reformed Theological Journal is a twice annual and free journal that you can either download or request by mail

FREE e-book “Apples of Gold” by Thomas Brooks  – Monergism is dishing out the good stuff almost daily with their e-books. In case you missed this one here’s one of their latest freebies.

FREE e-mail course – Steve Schramm Ministries offers a free new course Battle for the Beginning tackling views on origin.

FREE Particular Baptist literature  downloads – This blog collates tons of rare Particular Baptist works. You’ll find something that will interest you.

FREE webinar on prayer – Strategic Renewal presents this 60 minute webinar entitled How Praying Together Shapes the Church  with John Onwuchekwa. Register here for free.

 

By the way, to my Pinoy friends do you want to learn how to self-publish your book? Here’s a step by step video from Loida Bauto an AVM survivor and a PWD vlogger:

 

Do you want more freebies? Check out these past blog post:

Freebie Round-Up #49

Freebie Round-Up #48

Freebie Round-Up #47

Freebie Round-Up #46

Freebie Round-Up #45

Freebie Round-Up #44

Freebie Round-Up #43

Freebie Round-Up #42

Freebie Round-Up #41

Freebie Round-Up #40

Book Review: The Sacred Art of Joking by James Cary

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We might think that people won’t get easily offended in this post Christian and social media saturated age. But that’s not the case especially when we joke about someone’s religion. James Cary sets out to explain this and other issue surrounding humor and Christianity in this book, The Sacred Art of Joking.

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The title is one reason I requested a review copy and I think people who might not even be familiar with the author will do that also. The catchy title grabs hold of me. We’ll it did deliver the goods but not with some rough parts. For those who are not familiar with some references it will be a bit bumpy. Also there are parts that really nailed it and some parts that took you off the rail. Nevertheless, discussion about how humor works, the French satire Charlie Hebdo, and why comedians don’t usually poke fun with Islam are some of the highlights of this book. By that you’ll consider The Sacred Art of Joking a worthwhile read.

The Sacred Art of Joking primarily seeks to present comedy as a part of the Christian experience and it did in some point. Cary raises some concern on how jokes are presented in either in church or secular setting. Cary wants us to consider the comedy found in the Scripture and presents the Bible a dark and gritty book.  A delightful and fresh read for those the curious on a Christian perspective on using humor from a comedy writer.

My verdict:

4 out of 5

Read quotes from the book by clicking this link.

8 Favorite Quotes From the Book “The Sacred Art of Joking” by James Cary

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It’s been a busy weekend because my father in law was admitted in the hospital due to kidney failure. Please pray for him for recovery and financial support.

Anyways, here are 8 favorite quotes from James Cary’s book The Sacred Art of Jokingpublished by Inter Varsity Press.  If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at Amazon or at the author’s website.

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“clichés have a grain of truth in them. Jokes rely on clichés and stereotypes, and this can easily be the cause of offence”

“the impression is given that any laughter in church will only ever come from the preacher and never from the Bible itself. This will perpetuate the stereotype that the Bible is always sombre and stern when that is not the case. The result will be that comedy will continue to be seen as a deviation from scripture, and something transgressive.”

“The Church needs an antidote for the barbed and pointed jokes made at her expense, some of which are undoubtedly justified. For a shift in culture to be sustainable, this revivial must spring from the foundational.”

“If the preacher repeatedly uses his or her own comic gifts and gets the congregation to laugh, what does that say about the comic potency of the scriptures?”

“Having been exposed to the extraordinary miracles of Jesus from a young age, many Christians have essentially been inoculated against seeing the humour in the gospel accounts.”

“Modern-day Christians who only want to focus on the lovely and the pure run the risk of trying to be holier than Jesus.” “

“There are other reasons for my concerns on starting with a joke, but here is the one most relevant to the matter in hand: it undermines the idea that comedy can be found in scripture itself. “

“Comedy has the power to awaken feelings of outrage or laughter. Either way, the response is immediate and vocal.”

Pinoy Preacher List #7

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Here we are on our seventh installment of this series. If you miss out the five other list, they’re provided at the end of this post.

Isidro Dadula – Pastor Boy shepherds Molino Grace Grace Church at Bacoor, Cavite. His sermons can be access on their church Youtube Channel.

Bob Amigo – At the heart of NCR is Higher Rock Christian Church. HRCC is known for the Higher Rock Conference which brings sought after conference speakers to the Christian Filipinos. HRCC is pastored by Bob Amigo. You can access his messeges from their church website.

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Jurem Ramos – Pastor Jurem U. Ramos is the Senior Pastor of Soli Deo Gloria Church, Davao City. Pastor Jurem is known for the radio program The Shepherd’s Voice which airs on 702 DZAS on the AM band. You can listen or watch to his sermons at their multi media ministry website.

If you have miss out the previous installments here are the links:

Pinoy Preacher List #1

Pinoy Preacher #2

Pinoy Preacher List #3

Pinoy Preacher List #4 

Pinoy Preacher List #5

Pinoy Preacher List #6

Would you like to help me grow this list? If you know pastors or preachers who are Calvinistic or Reformed and has sermons online, please do e-mail me at nitoymgonzales@gmail.com.